Thursday, 18 March 2010

#373 - Three Old Glens & Icy Balls

From the looks of it, it might seem that not a lot has happened on Malt Madness for the past two weeks - but looks can be deceiving... I've been quietly working on a revisionist version of the Liquid Log. Most sections of the site have now recovered from the major crash of the website in 2006, but the liquid log was still damaged. 

Now I hope to be able to publish a fully revised version of my liquid log in a few weeks. My revised log won't be quite 'as good as new', but most links should work again. Of course, some of the information will be out-dated...

Meanwhile, in this entry I'd like to say something about the PR agency of The Macallan that now apparently suggests that the best way to enjoy the Macallan Fine Oak is in a tumbler with a huge ball of ice. However, I want to start with my notes for three oldies that Craig Daniels sent me from Australia.

Glencraig 16yo 1970 (40%, G&M Connoisseur’s Choice Old brown label, +/- 1986, Australia)  Nose: Surprisingly fresh with a hint of pine. Alcoholic, but in a pleasant way. Not a lot of ‘OBE’ apparently. Sweetens out a little after five minutes, and eventually it grows a little more metallic too. Growing complexity. Taste: A classic, malty profile that powers up in the centre. More substance than many CC’s from the 1990’s. A touch of smoke. Some sapy green wood in the finish. Some pine. I’d say this comes from a bourbon cask. After circa twenty minutes I finally found a touch of ‘old bottle effect’ on the palate. That lifts it into the 80’s. Score: 80 points - appropriately enough, this sample was sent to me by Craig Daniels in Australia. Thanks a lot, ‘Glen’ Craig ;-) 

Glendronach 1959-1960/1986 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Royal Wedding of Andrew & Sarah)  Nose: Ah! Rich and surprisingly 'winey'. Definitely some 'old bottle effect here, lovely, lovely, lovely... Light Spring fruits and a touch of smoke. Brilliant evolution over time. Some subtle spices too. Hint of mint. Taste: Surprisingly smoky. A surprisingly powerful centre - this is just wonderful. Lots of OBE here as well. Cool wood in the finish with some tannins. Dry. Hey, and there’s a touch of liquorice in the finish as well. Score: 90 points - this really is an excellent example of the way single malt whiskies used to be.

Glen Grant 1959-1960/1986 (40%, Gordon & MacPhail, Andrew and Fergie)  Nose: Coffee. Loads of old bottle effect. Settles down after a few minutes but remains very pleasant. Parsley. Sellery. Grows very sweet after half an hour with honey and caramel. Not much fruits. Keeps evolving. Taste: Pleasantly potent; plenty of smoke, but it doesn’t overpower the malty notes and the wood. Toffee and liquorice; an unusual combination. Hints of caramel (Caramac). Quite potent. Score: 91 points - a lovely example of a classic Speyside malt whisky.

Wow, excellent stuff - a wonderful opportunity to take a look into the past... Thanks Craig! 

I'll finish this report with a rant about this press release I received recently from Macallan. Apparently, the people of macallan now have icy balls...


Macallan Press Release - Raising the Bar
The Macallan Introduces the Ice Ball Serve

The ice or water debate has long remained a fiercely contested subject amongst whisky drinkers and The Macallan has thrown its hat into the ring by creating an innovative serving method expressly for those who like their whisky with ice.

Believing the perfect serve to come down to personal preference, The Macallan has pioneered the Ice Ball Serve.  It is the first real move by any whisky brand in the UK to present whisky in an innovative, contemporary fashion and open the doors to a growing adult population that regards ice as an integral part of the spirit-drinking experience.

The Ice Ball Serve is based on the Japanese tradition of serving hand-carved ice with ultra-premium spirits.  The ice ball press instantly creates a flawlessly formed sphere of ice that adds a touch of theatre and sophistication.

The Macallan’s Marketing Assistant, Pat Lee, explains the science part: “The Ice Ball Press was inspired by Japanese cocktail culture where artisans hand-carve ice balls from massive slabs to create an uninterrupted surface that cools spirits quickly and evenly.  The ice ball melts slowly to preserve the integrity of the spirit.  We have updated this process, by developing a copper press that instantly trims a block of ice into a flawless ice ball.  This, combined with our masterful single malt Scotch whisky, is The Macallan Perfect Serve.

“The Macallan’s liquid excellence is continuously defined by its unprecedented elegance and versatility. The ice ball balances these qualities. As global cocktail culture has evolved, ice has become central to the modern-day spirits experience.  With an eye on this trend, we created The Macallan Perfect Serve, to modernise the way single malt can be enjoyed and appeal to a wider range of consumers.”

In essence; The Macallan ice ball serve takes this traditional practice to the ultimate level, with a single perfect sphere of ice, a unique beautiful serve with the benefits of maximum chill with minimum dilution.


The Macallan remains the single malt against which all others must be judged. It is celebrated far and wide by experts and discerning drinkers as the world’s most precious whisky.

Yeah, well... 
Needless to say, the press release lead to some discussion amongst the maniacs because Macallan's PR agency apparently employs a gifted spin doctor. The 'ice or water debate' really is more of a 'dilution or not debate' among experts and discerning whisky drinkers. And for those of you that prefer NOT to dilute their whisky (or at least not those that were bottled at 40% or 43%), here's a tip from Olivier Humbrecht;

"My technique is still the easiest: take nice little granite stones about half inch size and put them in the freezer. You can use them to cool down whatever drink you don't want to mix with water. Whisky on the rocks..."

To which Dave Broom responded: "My tip : don't slug the drink back! unless you're not that attached to your front teeth."

Well, when handled with some caution, this seems like an excellent way to cool whisky if you prefer your whiskies at a manly strength. According to Mark and Martine these cubes are available from Laphroaig and Kilchoman.

Sweet drams...